Test run on the Transrapid 2.

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Friday 25th April 2003.: we arrived at Munster at half past four in the morning, and went on board RE 24104 to Lathen which name is marked by the Transrapid test track (TVE). It was a route of around 1500 kilometres so far. We spent the time between half past six and our term of rally at quarter past nine with walking (from railway station to test track is around 30-40 minutes or longer) and looking around the test center. We do it right, because we see things like the "usual" test riders, who arrive at the agreed rally term, don't. Right in the beginning: we have already seen the track of the Transrapid from a distance, it looks like a concrete bridge from the side. One of us have seen something on it which looked like a truck, going on it, northwards. As we came to know: he has seen none other than a normal-tyre diesel powered track cleaning vehicle!
The Lathen test track
The Lathen test track area

The track consists of a larger, Northern loop (R=1690 m), a newer, smaller, Southern loop (R=1000 m) and a long straight section between them (around 12 kms long, altogether 31,5 kms). The test center is at the Southern side of the straight section, this is where we are standing now.

Reaching the gates of the test center we could see our horse: the nose of the Transrapid 08 prototype train was hanging out of the depot. No surprise: the depot hall was made to accomodate the former, two section trains Tr06 and Tr07 while the Tr08 has three sections.

The others are looking at the information tables while I'm going to the "station". Everything is quiet yet.

Let's take a look at the track. This is an impression looking southwards. You can see the bridge girders are supported by "A" and "I" shaped reinforced concrete pillars.

The point of the Transrapid magnetic levitation system: the propulsion is not in the vehicle but in the track. The electric part of the track is none other than a stator wiring of an asynchronous motor laid out along the track (this is what we can see on the underside), and of the vehicle is the rotor wiring. Another speciality of this track section: when starting or stopping the train goes too slowly to induce enough power for the auxiliary so as the air conditioning, illumination, battery recharging etc., that's why you can see an additional power rail, just like at numerous underground railway systems. The picture on the right was made later where you can also see the power collector on the underpart of the vehicle.

Let's look around the test center, from outside. We can see a few normal-tyre maintenance vehicles and various platforms which -I believe- can be mounted on them, also a nice little snow bagger on the right.

We're standing under the branchline which takes the vehicles from the test center to the main line. This is where we can see one of the three points (junctions). Dibbling some saplings must be some kind of liability to protect the environment - I guess :-)
The junction of the Transrapid is a long, bendable steel construction. This means that the track in the used direction is continuous while the other branch gets cut off suddenly.

You can see the junction set in the straight direction on the left. This enables the vehicle to run with its maximum speed. The maximal avaible speed in curve is 200 kph, but it's not suggested to go faster than 160 because of the dinamic forces (confortability reasons). The density of the pillars is higher here, they bend the track by a mechanism on each pillars, each by a smaller or greater deviance. This end of the junction is fixed. This is an older junction which is powered by electromotors and the switching is done through worm gears and mechanisms. The junction of the southern loop is newer, the switching is done by hydraulic pistons.

The track on the junction is laid on wheels to allow the side movement.

Stop sign! OK, not for the Rapid though :-) You can see the end of the power rail section (the two metal lines on the side of the track girder.

Meanwhile the diesel-electric powered track cleaner vehicle arrives back from North. It stoppes at the test riders' station, doesn't go back into the test center, it went through its junction. You can see the vehicle has normal tyres on the two sides, too, to prevent it from derailing.

Namely the Tr08 came norther, and its "northern nose" annexed the travelling platform which could have bringed the track cleaner aside. The Rapid came forward in order to have the third car checked before the test runs, which had been hanging out at the southern gate of the depot hall. Now the "northern nose" of the Tr08 hangs out at the northern gate of the short depot hall (this also means that one who comes later doesn't see the Transrapid at the main gate). Now I get some relief: it works! So we won't miss the test run either.

Suddenly they switch the junction in curve. The Transrapid has departed! It slowly passes us by (around 50-60 kph), we take lots of photos, make videos, then it stoppes at the other station which is only used for special service.

The only thing they can do is to switch the junction back to straight direction, the track cleaner slowly approaches the Transrapid, it's about that space only for a track cleaner. It changes direction and goes into the test center. Our horse, Transrapid starts northwards to have a complete test round before our ride. It means that it will pass us by with high speed when coming back southwards. It came as we hoped so, and we filmed it. Now, this is an experience of its own: the power supply of the Tr is built in sections, and the vehicle constantly switches these sections on and off, where it is currently running. As I wrote, these sections are stator wirings of a motor streched along the track, when the vehicle switches them on, they start to make noise, they rattle very loud, then the Rapid passes by, but the stators are still rattling loud until the train reaches another power supply section, switching that on and switching this one off.

Arriving from South it stopps at the visitors' station, positioning itself accurately moving forward and backwards, then it sits onto the track: clack... clack... It poses in the morning sunshine while we're making some photos about it. Here you can see its middle coach: don't tell anyone but I believe there's no difference between the late Transrapid 07 and this 08 except this one has a middle coach, too :-)

We get into the growing fields to get the best picture :-) If you go far enough you can make a photo of the whole train.

One more picture to this page: an impression again about the Transrapid from underneath. Oh yeah, I remember one more difference between Tr07 and 08: the design. As a matter of fact Tr08 was made to be the envoy of the Hamburg-Berlin Transrapid line which would be operated by the German Railways DB, the ICE color scheme reminds us that it would be called as the ICE 5 train (the name ICE 4 is reserved for a newer version of the electric multiple unit train ICE 3).

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